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Overview of rectal prolapse in children

Rana Kronfol, MD
Section Editors
Craig Jensen, MD
Jonathan I Singer, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Rectal prolapse refers to the extrusion of some or all of the rectal mucosa through the external anal sphincter (figure 1) [1-4]. Rectal prolapse seldom occurs in children who do not have an underlying predisposing condition and usually occurs between infancy and four years of age, with the highest incidence in the first year of life [1,5]. During childhood, rectal prolapse occurs with equal frequency in boys and girls [1,6,7].


There are two types of rectal prolapse [4]. Type I, also called false procidentia, partial, or mucosal prolapse, involves protrusion of the mucosa only and usually is less than 2 cm long. Partial rectal prolapse produces radial folds at the junction with the anal skin (figure 1).

Type II, also known as true procidentia, or complete prolapse, involves full thickness extrusion of the rectal wall and is characterized by concentric folds in the prolapsed mucosa (picture 1). This group is subdivided into three subsets according to the degree of the prolapse:

First degree prolapse includes the mucocutaneous junction. The length of the protrusion from the anal verge usually is greater than 5 cm.

Second degree prolapse occurs without involvement of the mucocutaneous junction. The length of the protrusion from the anal verge usually is between 2 and 5 cm.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Mar 30, 2016.
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